Carrsville candidates discuss issues

Published 10:07 am Thursday, October 27, 2011

Participating in a candidate forum at Walters Ruritan Club on Wednesday were Isle of Wight County Supervisor Carrsville District candidates Rex Alphin, from left, J. Brian Carroll, Tom Gaskell, Joe Joyner and Ben Rideout. GWEN ALBERS/TIDEWATER NEWS

WALTERS—This year’s 25 percent property tax increase, county-owned land and the future of Airway Shopping Center were among things discussed during a Wednesday forum for five candidates running for Isle of Wight County Supervisor in the Carrsville District.

Voters on Nov. 8 will choose between Rex Alphin, J. Brian Carroll, Tom Gaskell, Joe Joyner or Ben Rideout to replace Kenneth Bunch, who chose not to run for the four-year seat due to job commitments. A former Isle of Wight School Board member, Bunch was appointed one year ago to complete the term of Supervisor Phillip Bradshaw, who resigned after being named chief financial officer for IOW schools.

The Carrsville District has 4,892 registered voters.

Supervisors are paid $11,744 annually.


Supervisors in May voted for a 25 percent tax increase to support the county’s $91 million 2011-2012 budget.

Carroll told the 60 people attending the forum at Walters Ruritan Club that the county needs to find ways to reduce the tax rate.

“We have to be frugal,” said the 40-year-old farmer and emergency medical services chief for Isle of Wight Rescue. “We still live much cheaper than surrounding localities, but will have to work hard to get industry.”

Joyner, a 61-year-old retired farmer, believes properties are over assessed. As an example, he shared information about a home advertised for $56,000, which is assessed at $140,000.

“We have to take some cost control and we have to know how to read a balance sheet,” he said.

Rideout, who belongs to five county-related committees, noted a lot of cost-cutting has occurred and warned residents about a future tax increase.

“The school system has merged departments,” said the 63-year-old, who is semi-retired from the granite business. “I’m in favor of keeping taxes down. (But) the federal government is going to cut $1 (million) to $2 million to the schools and the state may cut $800,000. We have to replace (that money).”

Alphin said there is no short-term fix; counties by law have to balance their budgets.

“I would love to see the tax rate go down,” the 56-year-old farmer said. “We have to stop spending. We’ve got to broaden our tax base.”

Gaskell attributed the 25 percent tax increase to poor planning.

“I would like to come up with a 10-year plan with the school district,” said Gaskell, 66, who in July retired from a 45-year ship designing career.


Joyner, Carroll, Gaskell and Alphin didn’t agree with the county’s August 2010 purchase of 2,507 acres, including 500 acres of wetlands and 5½ miles of frontage along the Blackwater River, for $3 million.

“The land on the Blackwater River was purchased with a $1.5 million grant at $2,500 an acre,” Joyner. “I think it was totally unnecessary.”

Joyner also was against building the $10.5 million courthouse that opened earlier this year in Isle of Wight.

“The board tried to put us in the land business and we lost money,” added Gaskell.

Alphin, Carroll and Rideout supported the development of the Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park on U.S. Route 460 in Windsor, where 400 jobs have been created. An announcement is expected Friday, Oct. 28, about another company moving into the 1,500-acre park.

“The Intermodal Park has some potential,” said Alphin. “As government, it’s our job to provide the infrastructure. (At the same time), it would be my intention that we do all that we can to maintain the rural flavor, and hopefully we can have the best of both worlds.”

Carroll noted the industry provides a tax base.

“We can keep (taxes) down for farmers and taxpayers,” he said.

Rideout noted the county is in a competitive market

“If you think businesses will come in without land, sewer and water, (you’re wrong),” he said. “Every county has an industrial park. Suffolk is investing millions (in one along Highway 58).


All candidates favored seeing retailers return to Airway Shopping Center, which died out after the Highway 58 bypass was built to go around Franklin.

“The location is in a low area and flooded out twice in hurricanes,” Rideout said. “We cannot have anymore homes (built in the area) because the water and sewer lines are inadequate.”

Alphin and Joyner noted the plaza owner has tried and suggested the county provide incentives to attract tenants.

Gaskell said he has spoken to the owner about bringing in an IGA grocery store.